Milwaukee River

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The Milwaukee River is a river in the state of Wisconsin. It is about 104 miles (167 km) long.[1]


The river begins in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin and flows south past Grafton to downtown Milwaukee, where it empties into Lake Michigan. Cedar Creek, the Menomonee River and the Kinnickinnic River are the three main tributaries.


Map of the Milwaukee River watershed.

The Milwaukee River watershed drains 882 square miles (2,280 km2) in southeastern Wisconsin, including parts of Dodge, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Washington and Waukesha counties.

The Milwaukee River watershed is part of the Lake Michigan subbasin; this subbasin is itself a part of the St. Lawrence River Watershed, which is fed by the Great Lakes.


The Milwaukee River area was populated by Native Americans in the time before European settlement. Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet navigated from Lake Michigan through the Milwaukee River on their way to the Fox River and the Mississippi.

In the early 19th century, three towns were formed across the banks of the Milwaukee and Kinnickinnic rivers: Juneautown by Solomon Juneau, Walker's Point by George H. Walker and Kilbourntown by Byron Kilbourn. The quarrel over the formation of a bridge across the Milwaukee River was a key point in the merging of the three towns into the city of Milwaukee in 1846..


The Milwaukee River as it goes through downtown Milwaukee crossed by the Wisconsin Avenue bridge
The Milwaukee River frozen over as it is crossed by the Saint Paul Avenue bridge

The Milwaukee River has numerous movable bridges spanning it, allowing for pedestrian and vehicular traffic. These bridges include several different types, including bascule and vertical lift bridges. There are also many fixed bridges, as well as several pedestrian-only and railroad trestles.

The following is a partial list of bridges that cross the river, from north to south:

There are also several Union Pacific (former Chicago and North Western Railway) railroad bridges crossing the Milwaukee River, including:


The east branch just west of New Fane

There are several parks on the banks of the Milwaukee River. These include Estabrook, Gordon, Kern, Lincoln, Pere Marquette, Pleasant Valley, and Riverside Parks in Milwaukee, Kletsch Park in Glendale and Hubbard Park in Shorewood.


There are also several dams along the river.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed May 19, 2011

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°01′32″N 87°54′10″W / 43.0256°N 87.9029°W / 43.0256; -87.9029